In this guide we’ll take a look at the best charcoal BBQs for the UK market.
I’ve compared design, features, build quality and cost
to give you my top recommendations.
What Is The Best Charcoal BBQ?
In a rush? Here's my top choice...
Best charcoal BBQ available
The CosmoGrill Outdoor XL Smoker Charcoal Portable BBQ will help you entertain guests whilst cooking delicious food. With a large cooking grill, warming rack, and grill thermometer, you can relax safe in the knowledge that this BBQ has got your back!CHECK PRICE →
Things to Know Before Buying a Charcoal BBQ
If you love the authenticity and taste of grilling over coals, a Charcoal BBQ is definitely the way to go.
Charcoal BBQs have a lot to offer, from fast temperature adjustments to smoking units on the side.
If you need a little help choosing the best charcoal BBQ for you, check out the following tips to help you make an informed decision.
What is it that makes cooking with a charcoal BBQ such a great experience?
First and foremost, charcoal BBQs give a deliciously smoky, outdoor-cooked, authentic quality to food which gas BBQs just can’t quite replicate.
They allow you a truly versatile cooking experience. Depending on where you place the food, and how you position the grill shelves, you can choose to sear meat, leave it to slow cook, or smoke it. What’s more, charcoal BBQs even allow you the possibility to cook food directly in the hot coals themselves (wrap in foil first!).
Charcoal BBQs really offer a variety of great options for food lovers. You can choose to use different types of wood with your charcoal BBQ to alter the taste when smoking. There are so many possibilities that just aren’t available when cooking with gas.
Gas grills do have their benefits, of course, and one of their advantages is that they are notoriously easy to light. However, don’t let the charcoal BBQ’s unjust reputation for being difficult to start put you off. With a bit of practise, you’ll be an expert at getting the coals burning, and you’ll never look back!
As you can imagine, how you wish to use your BBQ will determine what size you should buy.
Do you have a large family or is it just the two of you? Are you frequently hosting parties?
What about food? Are you content just grilling sausages and burgers? Or do you want to smoke racks of ribs and cook a whole chicken?
If you know you want to be able to cook a lot of food for a lot of people, you should look for a BBQ with a large grill (and a warming rack). Consider, for example, how much easier the task of BBQing for a party could be using the Azuma Smoker Barbecue Black Barrel BBQ which has a 68cm grilling rack can cook 18 burgers whilst keeping 12 more warm!
However, if the idea of cooking that much food at one time seems unnecessary to you, you’ll probably be happier with something smaller. A lot of great options are available, allowing you to cook for a few people and then easily store the BBQ away, like the Outsunny Garden Charcoal Barbecue, for example.
An even more unique option for small BBQs is the Lakeland Grill Tabletop Charcoal Barbecue. Imagine how excited your friends and family will be to have the option to cook their own food on this stunning table-top BBQ!
Look out for charcoal BBQs which have vents, as these allow more control over the cooking temperature.
For some, this may not be as important, especially if you’re mostly interested in serving up just a couple of sausages and burgers.
However, for cooking bigger items, or larger quantities, it can be helpful to be able to adjust the temperature. Vents are often positioned at the top or bottom of the BBQ, or at both ends.
There may also be an option to adjust the height of your charcoal basin or change the height of the shelves. This brings food closer to, or further away from, the heat source. When the food is closer to the charcoal, the temperature will be higher, and vis versa.
It can be a bit of a nightmare to clean some old-fashioned BBQs. You may be familiar with the type – you have to lie them down, twist them about, or flip them over completely in order to effectively clean them.
But fear not! This can be avoided. And if you’re going to the effort of buying a new BBQ, I recommend you make your life simpler by checking if it’s easy to clean.
Several BBQs have features to make cleaning easier.
As a starter for ten, look for models which have removable ash trays that can be removed and cleaned separately. For example, the Landmann DIY Charcoal Barbecue or the Landmann Pedestal Charcoal Barbecue.
You should also look out for chrome- or ceramic-plated grills. These have a durable, non-stick surface which should keep them easy to wash down for years.
You want your BBQ to be a long-term investment, so it’s important to buy one which has got some longevity.
A durable material is a good place to start. Look for steel construction and ceramic-coated grills. This is usually a sign of quality.
It’s also important that the grill itself is relatively thick. Not only does a thicker grill hold heat longer, ultimately cooking more effectively, it is also much more likely to last longer. Cooking grates should be made out of steel or cast iron.
Everything We Recommend
More Detailed Charcoal BBQ Reviews
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CosmoGrill Outdoor XL Smoker Charcoal Portable BBQ Review
The CosmoGrill Outdoor XL Smoker Charcoal Portable BBQ deservedly finds itself at the top of my list. In my opinion, this is undoubtedly the best charcoal BBQ.
My favourite feature (although it’s hard to choose as I like a lot of things about this BBQ!) is its generously-sized cooking area. I find cooking space can be a problem on some charcoal BBQs – they don’t always give you much room. But there’ll be no more sausages rolling off onto the lawn with this CosmoGrill!
But, you’ll be glad to know, despite it being quite sizeable, it’s easy to move around. It has sturdy front wheels, a solid frame, and weighs 28 kg.
Another excellent attribute is its built-in thermometer which you’ll find really takes the guesswork out of BBQing. No more complaints for serving up excessively charred food! PLUS it has a useful warming rack to help serve everything up at the same time. Basically, what I’m getting at here is – it shares many of the useful features of a gas BBQ, but with the wonderful authenticity of charcoal.
Lastly, this BBQ is equipped with foldable side tables which are incredibly practical. When BBQing, you can rest everything you need – food, condiments, an ice cold drink… – on the tables and have easy access to them.
As you can see, this is an excellent charcoal BBQ. I think the design is perfectly considered; helping you be organised and keep on top of the BBQing whilst relaxing with your friends or family.
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Landmann Taurus Large Charcoal BBQ Review
The Landmann Taurus Large Charcoal BBQ is a very large charcoal BBQ with an exceptionally well-though-out design. A design that promises to make outdoor cooking as simple and stress free as possible.
So, what’s one thing that often makes BBQing more of a faff than it needs to be? Too small a cooking area! Luckily, this BBQ is easily large enough to cater for 10 people in one cooking session. This really takes the pressure off, making it easy for everyone to sit down and enjoy their food at the same time – even you, chef!
The lid features a built-in thermometer which is a real game changer. You can check the cooking temperature safely and accurately without releasing heat by opening the drum. A built-in warming rack also makes it easy to keep food hot whilst the rest is still cooking.
There is a three-part cooking grill which looks extremely impressive when cooking as well. It has been enamelled, which is great for several reasons. It will last longer, make cooking easier, and is also so simple to keep clean. The charcoal grid can be easily adjusted, and the ash pan can be simply removed to make the dreaded task cleaning out the BBQ far less taxing.
There is also a handy side shelf built onto the BBQ. It’s ideal for resting food on, or for use as a condiments table. Plus, they’ve thought of everything – it can be safely removed and cleaned with minimum hassle.
This is another high-quality BBQ that can cook for a multitude of people at the same time. It’s just missed out on being my top pick because it doesn’t have quite as much side-table space as the CosmoGrill. However, this is grill will still make hosting a BBQ an absolute breeze.
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Weber Compact 47cm Charcoal BBQ Black Review
The Weber Compact 47cm Charcoal BBQ Black is the best charcoal barbecue if you’re looking for something a little bit smaller. It’s ideal for family meals in the garden and is stylish and well built. Ticking so many boxes!
The cooking plate measures 47 cm which is great for day-to-day BBQing. It might not be big enough for an all-relatives-welcome summer party, but it provides plenty of room to cook for a family of four. Plus, the compact design makes it perfect for smaller gardens, and you could even transport it to a campsite or a beach. It’s much lighter than a lot of other options, weighing only 7 kg, making it perfectly portable.
What’s more, the build quality is excellent, as you would expect from Weber! It’s constructed from a durable mixture of steel, chromed steel and enamelled steel. There is a rust-proof vent at the bottom of the bowl and the handle is fully weatherproofed. You won’t need to worry about it suffering from exposure.
The heavy-duty wheels are also crack resistant and weatherproof; they make the barbecue extremely easy to manoeuvre.
This BBQ requires some self-assembly but it’s not difficult to put together. Once done, the dimensions are 83 x 52 x 56 cm.
If you are looking for a compact charcoal BBQ, perfecting for everyday family cooking, camping, or to take to the beach, this is an excellent option.
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Outsunny New Outdoor Garden Charcoal Barbecue Review
The Outsunny Garden Charcoal Barbecue is a cheap, budget BBQ which is great for ‘BBQ beginners’.
It’s an attractive little pedestal BBQ which is made from quality materials. Mostly, it has been designed for ease of use – it may not have all the bells and whistles of other models but it will cook delicious BBQ food!
It is small enough to be used in the tiniest of garden spaces, measuring only 67 x 51 x 82 cm. It also weighs just 5 kg which is extremely light for a BBQ. As a result, it’s extremely easy to move around and take in and out of storage. It has two wheels which make it easy to position.
The height of the BBQ can easily be adjusted which makes it comfortable to use. The charcoal grid is made from steel and there is a built-in ventilation disc to ensure the heat can be easily adjusted. This is a great way to have control over the heat being confronted with too many complicated settings. To finish off there is a handy storage area at the bottom. It’s perfect for either storing charcoal or using as a preparation area.
This is the best charcoal BBQ on a budget because it has all the basics that you need to quickly get BBQing. You may not get all the bells and whistles of other BBQs, but you’ll still be able to serve up delicious BBQ feasts to friends and family.
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Tepro Toronto Trolley Grill Barbecue Review
The Toronto Trolley Grill Barbecue is a great model. Equally as suites to every-day grilling as it is to special events.
This barbecue is traditionally “American” in style; it has a robust, squared-off design with a hinged lid and several grill shelves. Not only are BBQs of this design stylish and aesthetically pleasing, they’re also well sized and practical.
What’s more, it has a foldable side table. This is one of my favourite features on a BBQ – it makes BBQing so much easier to have everything you need within arm’s length. Plus, the side table is equipped with little hooks for hanging utensils from. All in all, it’s a really well-thought-out design.
Another great feature of this BBQ is the ability to control the grill temperature using the crank system. Adjusting the crank alters the distance between the coals and the food. The larger the distance, the lower the temperature. This is a great option to ensure more delicate foods don’t get scorched to charcoal.
The hinged hood of the BBQ can also be lowered or kept open. Keeping it closed ensures that the heat is kept in, which gives you the option to roast food all the way through.
There are special air vents built into the BBQ which provide circulation when grilling. They also stop the coals from going out when cooking with the hood closed. This is excellent as it’s just one less thing for you to think about!
You can also keep an eye on the cooking temperature, whilst the lid is closed, using the built in thermometer. This gives you an idea as to when you might need to add more charcoal to keep your BBQ going, without needing to open the BBQ and release heat unnecessarily.
This BBQ also comes with sturdy wheels attached, making it to move around your garden or into storage.
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Azuma Black Barrel Smoker Barbecue Review
The Azuma Smoker Barbecue Black Barrel BBQ is an excellent choice if you are looking for the versatility of both a smoker and a barbecue.
The grilling rack is huge. It measures 68 cm and can cater for 18 standard-sized beef burgers at one time! As a result, it is ideal for large family gatherings and parties.
If that wasn’t enough, its warming rack will hold up to 12 burgers. So, this BBQ has the capacity for 30 burger patties in total! That will certainly make organising the cooking timings easier at your next social BBQ.
The hinged lid comes down for even cooking, and the vents and chimney allow you to control the heat and smoke.
The temperature gauge makes it easy to know the perfect time to put your food on the barbie, so no more cremated sausages!
The smoke and heat from the barbecue circulate into the smoker giving you the option to smoke food for a delicious flavour. The smoker has a grilling rack which is large enough to cook six chicken legs.
The barbecue is easy to set up and store. Once constructed, its dimensions measure 125 x 134 x 70 cm. It’s really stylish, and will add a touch of industrial chic to your garden. It makes quite a statement! It is also easy to move around on its large sturdy wheels, so you can choose exactly the right BBQ spot.
If you are looking for a smoker and griller, and you love to cook outside for friends and family, the Azuma Smoker Barbecue Black Barrel BBQ is a very promising choice.
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Azuma Black Steel Barrel Charcoal BBQ Review
This Azuma Black Steel Barrel Charcoal BBQ is a particularly heavy-duty charcoal BBQ. It’s ideal for those of us who like to regularly entertain outdoors.
For those who would always choose a simple, traditional charcoal BBQ over a gas one, the simplicity of this item will certainly appeal. This barrel-shaped BBQ allows you to lay the charcoal out evenly across its base; not only does it produce a very even cooking temperature, it is also easy to light in the first place.
The temperature can also easily be adjusted during cooking; the grill height can be lowered or raised, changing the position of the food in relation to the heat.
One thing I love to see on a BBQ is adequate room for storage, and this model has plenty. There’s a generous fold-out shelf at the front and a rack lower down. These are perfect for holding plates whilst you dish up food, or for keeping sauces and condiments in an easy to reach place.
Two other great features are the side vents, which help increase air circulation to the food and coals; and the upper shelf, perfect for keeping food warm.
This is a particularly sturdy and well-made model. It’s made of high-quality, durable materials, with a very sturdy leg base.
If you are looking a high-quality, heavy-duty charcoal BBQ this is an excellent option.
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Fire Mountain Deluxe Charcoal Trolley Barbecue Review
This Fire Mountain Deluxe Charcoal Barbecue is a fantastic choice for anyone who loves traditional outdoor BBQ food. It’s great if you have a large family or regularly host garden parties (or want to start hosting them!).
This model offers a lot of flexibility when it comes to cooking. Allow me to explain. Firstly, it has a large space for cooking, with two chrome steel grills that are split over two separate levels. Then, each of these grills can be adjusted to sit at one of three different heights. This means it’s perfect if you need to prepare full meals with food that requires different cooking temperatures. Not all BBQs offer this feature but it’s extremely useful!
The top grill can also be used as a handy warming rack when required. If you adjust it to the highest level it will keep your cooked food warm whilst everything else is cooking.
The BBQ itself is made from black coated steel which makes it particularly solid and durable. There are two matching black side shelves which can be used for food preparation, plating, condiments or for any other task you like.
There is also a storage area underneath, which is great for utensils or charcoal. A nice touch is that this area is covered by a canvas-style fabric, keeping it looking neat and tidy and hiding whatever you choose to store there.
This is a great value BBQ with a lot of quality features. The two three-height-position grills really give a lot of flexibility when it comes to cooking a range of foods.
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Broil-Master Charcoal Grill BBQ Review
This is a classically designed charcoal BBQ with a large grilling area. It makes the preparation of outdoor meals, large or small, incredibly hassle free.
Depending on your preferences, this Broil-Master Charcoal Grill BBQ can be used with charcoal or wood and coal briquettes. Each gives a slightly different BBQ experience, so you can experiment to find what you like best! There is also an indirect grill function, allowing the lid to be closed and the food to be roasted. To make this even easier, the built-in thermometer in the hood means you can keep an eye on the heat without interrupting the cooking.
Compared with a lot of similar BBQs, this model has an extra large grilling space. This is extremely handy and means less juggling when cooking a lot of food. Providing for many people is made even easier thanks to the built-in chrome warming rack.
When it comes to practicality, this BBQ has got a lot going for it. It stands safely on two wheels, making it easy to move around, and has two non-slip support feet. There are large handles on both sides for ease of movement and a handy built in bottle opener, to save you going back to the kitchen!
There is also a convenient, large storage space beneath the main unit to keep charcoal or any other grilling necessities.
The whole BBQ is made from durable, powder-coated steel, which effectively protects the unit from heat damage.
All in all, this is a great BBQ which offers a lot of versatility in terms of what fuel you can use, and also how much food you can cook. It’s a fantastic grill that’s perfect for entertaining guests with its vast grilling capacity.
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Landmann Stainless Steel Pedestal Charcoal Barbecue Review
This Landmann Pedestal Charcoal Barbecue is another quality offering from the BBQ experts at Landmann. It’s rather different to their other model featured in this top 10.
This is a stainless steel pedestal BBQ which has an extremely modern feel to it. It is smaller than the other Landmann model, but still very practical. It has the grilling space to allow cooking for up to four people at one time. The grill is chrome plated which looks smart, is easy to use, and simple to clean (always a bonus!). It measures 36 cm and is height adjustable
There are some great practical design features, too. It has a windshield, which helps maintain the BBQ’s temperature and keeps you safe from flying sparks/ash; an easy-to-remove ash tray; and a ventilation disc, which allows you to adjust the heat as you see fit.
Landmann is a trusted company in the production of quality BBQs and has the benefit of 40 years of experience in the field! They are known for their practical designs and use of strong, durable, yet lightweight materials.
As a result, this is a high-quality, easy-to use BBQ that will keep the grilling experience hassle free whilst allowing you to cook up a feast.
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Charles Jacobs Large Charcoal Barrel BBQ Review
This is a very large BBQ which is perfect for frequent use by larger families, or to cater for large parties and family gatherings.
There is a large grilling area provided, which allows you to prepare meals for many people at the same time. Underneath the grill is a mini smoker area, which gives you the option of cooking food without directly grilling it.
The BBQ itself is manufactured from black powder coated steel and comes with two wheels and sturdy rubber tipped feet. This lets you move the BBQ into any desired position in your garden and then rest assured that it will remain stable whilst you cook.
There is a handle on the side for moving the BBQ and a matching one on the hood to allow you to open and close it . Both of these handles have been designed to be cool to the touch, even when the BBQ is lit. A metal storage rack is also a handy place to store utensils and this BBQ comes with several. This includes a fork, spatula and a set of tongs.
This Charles Jacobs Large Charcoal Barrel BBQ is stress free before it is built too. The instruction manual to build it has been tried and tested and all individual parts are numbered for ease of construction.
If you are looking for a reliable, hassle free charcoal BBQ that’s fantastic value for money and can be used for entertaining guests as well as for day-to-day use by the family, click below!
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Landmann DIY Charcoal Barbecue Review
The Landmann DIY Charcoal Barbecue is the best BBQ if you want a traditional brick built grill in your garden.
The set comprises a chrome-plated cooking grill providing a cooking area of 67 cm x 40 cm as well as a charcoal grid and an ash tray. The completed BBQ provides enough cooking space for up to eight people. The set also comes with full instructions that are easy to follow.
All items are durable and well made with the quality you would expect from Landmann barbecues. The components are also easy to remove for cleaning. This barbecue grill is durable product that is excellent value for money and will last for years.
If you’re looking for a truly cost-effective way to create a permanent cooking station in your garden look no further than the Landmann DIY Charcoal Barbecue!
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Charles Jacobs Large Charcoal Barrel BBQ with Smoker Review
If you are looking for a large BBQ that can cater for family gathering or parties, this Charles Jacobs Barrel BBQ with Smoker is a perfect option for you. It’s a BBQ that offers something a little special; the built-in smoker gives you a useful cooking tool, whilst the stunning design adds style to your garden or patio.
This model has a large grilling area which offers more flexibility. You have the option of grilling directly over the heat, or cooking food for a longer time further from the heat source. The separate smoker gives you the flexibility to choose what food to smoke or not (although you’ll probably end up wanting to smoke everything once you’ve given it a go!).
You can have full control over the temperature at all times by adjusting the built-in chimney ventilation valve. And this isn’t the only handy feature present:
There is an inset temperature display, allowing you to constantly keep an eye on the heat; two handles that are cool to the touch; wheels for easy mobility; a wooden work top at the front of the unit; and a metal storage rack for charcoal. Need more? Well, it also comes with its own tongs, fork and spatula!
As with all Charles Jacobs products, it comes with tested, easy-to-follow instructions and labelled part packs for easy construction.
Charcoal BBQ FAQs
Honestly, no. Charcoal BBQs burn coal as they cook your food, creating a delicious smoky aroma and grilling those flavours into your food.
A gas grill doesn’t burn coal or create smoke in the same way, they can’t replicate the same smoky flavour.
- Always keep safety in mind before you begin. Don’t light the BBQ near wooden fences or trees in case sparks jump from the grill. Remember to use proper cooking equipment, like heat-safe tongs, to touch the food.
- Choose a good-quality charcoal. You should try to avoid charcoal which contains accelerants as these can mar the taste of food.
- Use a chimney starter as a great choice for quickly and easily lighting charcoal. You put the charcoal into the bucket-shaped tool, along with some flammable kindling (newspaper, twigs, etc.). Once the coals start burning, you can tip them into your BBQ.
- Arrange the coals in your BBQ depending on whether you want to cook with direct heat (food directly above the coals) or indirect heat (food cooks on grill with heat source off to one side).
- If you want to cook with direct heat, evenly distribute the coals under all of the grill space.
- If you want to cook with indirect heat, spread the coals out under one side of the grill only. You can then cook on the other side of the grill and the heat will reach the food, but not as much as if the food was directly over the coals.
No. Charcoal BBQs have a reputation for being harder to use than gas BBQs, but this is simply because it takes a bit more effort to light them. And just because something takes more effort, doesn’t mean it is more difficult! Once you have practised lighting the BBQ a couple of times, you will realise it’s no harder to use than a gas BBQ.
- Landmann Taurus Large Charcoal BBQ
- Weber Compact 47cm Charcoal BBQ Black
- Tepro Toronto Trolley Grill Barbecue
- Azuma Black Barrel Smoker Barbecue
- Azuma Black Steel Barrel Charcoal BBQ
- Fire Mountain Deluxe Charcoal Trolley Barbecue
- Broil-Master Charcoal Grill BBQ
- Lakeland Large Family Social Grill Tabletop Charcoal Barbecue
- Landmann Stainless Steel Pedestal Charcoal Barbecue
- Landmann DIY Charcoal Barbecue